PERRY, Amos

 AMOS PERRY

PASSIONATE PLANTSMAN

  (1871-1953)  

 

PERRY'S HARDY PLANT FARM

Holtwhite's Hill Road, Enfield, Middlesex, England 

 

The first (or left) photo portrait of Amos Perry appeared in the August 2007 issue of the Royal Horicultural Society's periodical, The Garden, with an article titled "The man who made the world more beautiful".  The second (or right), photo portrait appeared in the American Amaryllis Society's HERBERTIA, Volume 8, 1941, with an autobiographical article by Perry himself.


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Amos Perry raised or introduced 400 new, hardy plants. 

 

In 1935, Perry was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society 

Victory Medal of Honour, the highest award in the field of British horticulture. 

 

Between 1900 and 1945, 173 of his plants received the Award of Merit from the RHS. 

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(Below) THELMA PERRY 1925 42" MLa Dor Dip Frag YM1    [Photo: Mark Bolton]

 

For a picture of  IRIS PERRY 1925 30" MLa YOM1 (thunbergii X aurantiaca),

see Tinker's where there is a photo taken by Mark Cook of this group. 

 

(Below) CISSE GIUSEPPI 1936 30" MLa Dor Dip ORD1    [Photo: Bryce Farnsworth] 


(Above) H. Margaret Perry (1925)    [Photo: Stephen Kelly] 
height 54", season M, Rebloom, Dormant, Diploid,  ORM2. (EUROPA X CYPRIANA)
  

 

 [Photo: Claire Espeland]

Sunset (1931)
height 36", season MLa, Dormant, Diploid,  ORM2-P. (MARGARET PERRY X UNKNOWN)

For other pictures of Sunset see Mark Cook's Historic or Heritage Daylily site here:http://members.tripod.com/bigalligator_1/id10.html

 

 

 This shows a water lily pool at Perry's Hardy Plant Farm.  [Source]

 

A water plant manual called Water, Bog and Moisture-Loving Plants

was originally published by Hardy Plant Farm about 1937.

According to an article of Water Gardeners International, at one time the Hardy Plant Farm

"was the largest aquatic and herbaceous plant producer in Europe." [Source]



 



[In transcribing the autobigraphical article below, I used italics the way Perry did-- for cultivar names, as well as for genera.  Also, anything in brackets is something I added, such as registration dates. 


In the title immediately following, F.L.S. stands for Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and V.M.H. stands for Victoria Medal of Honours.c.]  

 

AMOS PERRY, F.L.S., V.M.H. 

 

An Autobiography

 

From HERBERTIA, Volume 8, 1941

 

 

          From early boyhood I knew that horticulture was to be my vocation.  The love of flowers was an inherent trait which could not be mastered and I have never felt the slightest urge to adopt any other calling.  Consequently, after leaving Tottenham Grammer School my father had me apprenticed to T. S. Ware of Hale Farm Nursery, Tottenham--at that time one of the largest general nurseries in the country.  Here I worked though the several departments and on completion of apprenticeship was appointed foreman to the Bulb Department.  There it was that the joys and trials of growing miscellaneous rare bulbs and tubers first revealed themselves and created an interest which has never disappeared; indeed, even today I believe myself justified in claiming that my collection of these interesting subjects is one of the most complete trade collections in the country.

          At this time I frequently visited Covent Garden Market, and in this way met and ultimately became the best of friends with the late Mr. George Beckwith, the great carnation specialist.  On his inducement I decided to leave Ware's and start in business on my own account as a carnation grower.  My late father [Amos Perry, Senior, pictured far below] joined me and we secured four acres of land at Winchmore Hill and procured from Beckwith, during the early spring of 1890, 1,500 large forced plants of border carnations, old plants 5/6 ft. high in many cases wuth two and more hundred layers.  This consignment included some 200 plants of Mrs. Frank Watts (named after the wife of the bulb growing industry in Seilly Isles), a variety which was in great demand and considered by the market men of the day as the finest white carnation ever introduced.  It was our intention to grow carnations for the wholesale trade and we did secure the attentions of most of the larger buyers; but, after a while interest palled.

          Meantime, however, we were gradually acquiring a collection of miscellaneous bulbs and rare perennials from such men as the late Max Leichtlin of Baden Baden, Louis Van Houtte of Ghent, DeGraaff of Holland and Dr. Regel of St. Petersburg, a famous gardener then in control of the finest collection of plants in Europe, whole friendship continued until his lamented death.  About this time my father had secured a very large consignment of many thousands of plants from the Chilean Andes which had been collected by a French political refugee; this consignment included many thousands...[omitting some detail here]

           I well recall visiting Mr. DeGraaff [of DeGraaff family in Netherlands, involved with plants since 1700s] and finding several deep purple forms amongst a magnificent batch of Delphinium cardinalis [Larkspur?] seedlings.  On witnessing my enthusiasm, my host remarked, "You shall have the coloured forms-- they are no use to me.  I can only sell the scarlet." It was in these gardens, too, that our original collection of Helleborus orientalis originated; these "harbingers of spring" that seem at long last to be receiving the popularity they so richly deserve.

          The plants so acquired became the nucleus of our present collection.  I started hybridizing and searching for variations in the heterogeneous forms of the type species. 
          In 1890 whilst on a visit to York I met that "Grand Old Man" of Hemerocallis fame, the late Mr. George Yeld, and our friendship continued until the time of his death.  It was his enthusiasm and encouragement that was so helpful to me in those days of long ago and in later years enabled me to follow more closely his advice and to do my share in making this genus better known.  At that time I promised to visit his garden again, but not withstanding his many pressing invitations...  
 
 
  [Photo: HERBERTIA VOL. 8, 1941]                                                                                      
 
George Yeld and Amos Perry in Yeld's garden, 1936

          ...I never had an opportunity of keeping my promise till 1936, when he, beaming with joy, showed me his latest daylily introduction-- Magnifico [Magnifica, Yeld 1935], growing in a large pot in his small propagating house.  Prior to this date, he had given me Beauty, Chrysolite [Yeld 1906], Corona [Yeld 1905], Halo [Yeld 1906] and many others.  It is to be regretted that he lost Frances [Francis, Yeld 1895], which he described as being one of his best seedlings raised by using H. aurantiaca major as seed parent.

          About 1895 Karl Ludwig Sprenger, the famous Italian plant breeder, after a visit to my plant nurseries, sent along a plant of H. citrina.  The possibilities of these plants were now becoming apparent; I became interested in the genus and the following year intercrossed this species with H. flava.  A visit to Messrs. Kesselring's nurseries in St. Petersburg secured H. middendorffii and other species and varieties, which with the several varieties previously secured from Mr. Yeld, Ajax [Mueller 1908], Golden Ball, Noceriensis and Dr. Regel [Mueller 1904] from Mueller, formed a nucleus upon which to work.  The results were not encouraging, almost the only variety worthy of selection being a shy-flowering hybrid between H. citrina and H. flava.  The first plant of this was sent to Mr. W. E. Gumbleton of Queenstown, Ireland, a keen amateur who was particularly interested in Hemerocallis and did much to foster my own enthusiasm. A deal of correspondence passed between us and on Feb. 3rd 1905 he wrote:  "Do you still esteem as good and distinct vaieties, three Hemerocallis hybrids you sent me some years ago-- named Sovereign, Gold Dust, and Orangeman?  If so, I could let you have them back.  I can see little difference between them!  Your hybrid of H. citrina, though it bloomed nicely for me in 1903. did not flower at all last year; the species H. citrina is in bud."

           After that I made little or no headway and lost interest in the genus for many years; other families were more prodigal with results, so that between 1906-1930 my interests were centered around asters (Michaelmas Daisies), geums, lilies, papavers, spireas and monardas.  During the 1914-1918 holocaust, business was at a standstill and during this interim I started cross-breeding Iris species and the barbata (June-flowering) varieties.  The venture was not unsuccessful.  As a direct result of these labours I received 43 Awards of Merit, gold and silver medals, the Dykes Memorial Medal, the Foster Memorial Plaque; and produced such interesting hybrids as Margot Holmes (chrysographes x douglasiana) [Margot Holmes won first British Dykes Medal in 1927.]; Wat-bract (watsoniana x bracteata); Tebract (tenax x bracteata); Tebract Brilliant; Delavayi pallida; chrysowegi (chrysographes x hartwegi); Harten (hartwegi x tenax); Doug-graphes (douglasiana x chrysographes). 

           Just after the war Mr. J. C. Wister, President of the American Iris Society, visited my nurseries and in a note on what he had seen of interest in this country, wrote, "Getting into London I had a hard schedule ahead to see Iris gardens.  I went first to see Perry's as he was nearest London.  I found his Iris in full bloom. If I had been pleased with the seedlings at Cayeux's and Goos and Koenemann's I was literally knocked off my feet with what Perry had to show.  I began to rate them so high that I began to wonder if there was anything wrong with my eyes."

          However, Hemerocallis were not entirely forgotten and during those enforced years of reduced activity (1914-1918) I gradually acquired further new varieties.  These were used as seed and pollen parents in conjunction with our own stocks so that the 1920s began to show some results.

          In 1921 I introduced Lady Fermor-Hesketh (thunbergii x citrina) [Perry 1924], named after an American lady of great charm-- the mother of our local Member of Parliament; quite distinct from any other form in my possession.  During the summer of 1920 Mr. George Yeld visited my nursery and was much impressed by my many selected seedlings and told me he considered it a great honour to have such a beautiful variety as George Yeld [Perry 1926] (thunbergii x cypriana) named after himself and remarked, "It will be a good plant when my name is but a memory;" this was subsequently offered in 1925 and plants were freely distributed to U.S.A., Holland, India, Canada, etc.

          Another variety that received much attention was Margaret Perry (fulva x cypriana) [Perry 1925, pictured above].  Chrysolora [Perry 1925], Gold Standard [Perry 1925] and Erika [Perry 1924] were the best of my 1921-1925 introductions, and, last but not least, Viscountess Byng [Perry 1931] of Vimy which was highly esteemed and found favour with the many American and European visitors to my garden during 1925 and onwards, and has been freely used in America for breeding purposes.  This plant has given me a lot of trouble at home and overseas by correspondence, my attention being called among other things to the several published criticisms of my attempt accurately to describe this bewitching little beauty; but still I do not care, I know it is a good plant and when introduced was distinct from any other form on this side.

           1926 ushered in Eldorado [Perry 1926] and by 1927 I was offering 39 species and varieties, including Gold Imperial [Perry 1925], Iris Perry [Perry 1925, pictured above] and Mrs. Perry [Perry 1926].  In 1927 Mr. Franklin B. Mead visited my nursery and was much impressed with the seedlings-- especially those of Margaret Perry [Perry 1925] crosses.  In October, 1928 he wrote from Fort Wayne, Indiana, "I am sending with my compliments a plant of Hemerocallis Hyperion [Mead 1924] in return for the many courtesies which you extended and in memory of the pleasure I had in seeing you and your nurseries a little over a year ago."  Hyperion proved a first-rate seed and pollen parent and some good results were obtained, as I shall mention later.

          During 1933 Byng of Vimy [Perry 1931] was introduced and named by special permission of that great General who won international fame during 1914-1918.  1934 produced June Boissier [Perry 1926] and Sunset [Perry 1931, pictured above]; 1935 gave us Elizabeth Pyke (middendorffii x fulva) [Perry 1934]-- the first good dwarf (18 ins.); and 1936 ushered in Mars [Perry 1946], rich tangerine-orange, crimped petals; Bellona (Imperator x fulva rosea) [Perry 1946], delicate shade of orange-apricot; Sri Chandra (Reggie Perry x fulva rosea) [Perry 1940], a delicate shade of reddish-apricot, green base; Idele (Reggie Perry x fulva rosea) [Perry 1942] deep reddish-apricot; and Lamia (Cinnabar x fulva rosea) [Perry 1946], medium-sized flowers, orange-red.  Many of these, and others, were crossed with Hyperion [Mead 1924], and the most outstanding of the progeny were given the following provisional names (I have found this system less confusing than the use of numbers in the field; definite names will be given later.

Ceres (Hyperion x Reggie Perry) [Perry 1939]; an exceptionally large, short-cupper flower, rich butter-yellow, the whole flower of great substance, petals as stout as a Camellia.

Clacton (Mars x Hyperion) [Perry 1942]; deep orange, 6 ins. across.

Dublin (Idele x Hyperion) [Perry 1942] rich orange; 35% of flowers semi-double; flowers open early morning and remain in good condition till 11-12 next morning.

Forty Hill (Idele x Hyperion) [Perry 1942]; rosy apricot-bronze, madder zone.

Frinton (Hyperion x Sri Chandra)
[Perry 1942]; broad overlapping divisions, bronze-apricot.

Golden Hind (Hyperion x Wau-Bun)
[Perry 1942]; extra large, rich yellow.  June.

Perth (Hyperion x fulva rosea)
[Perry 1942]; reddish crushed-strawberry, distinct shade.

Paignton (Hyperion x Bellona)
[Perry 1942]; crimped divisions, soft bronze.

Rugby (Hyperion x fulva rosea) [Perry 1942]; large open flowers, rich crimson-claret.
 

          During 1935, I raised a number of H. forrestii hybrids, one of the best, Fumy (forestii x middendorffii), forms compact tufts of medium thin foliage; flowers rich tangerine-orange, reddish-brown shaded reverse; flowers are produced in great profusion from 6-10th June onwards; 3 ins. across, slightly crimped.

          Hemerocallis fulva rosea
, a present from Dr. Stout, has worked wonders and transformed this genus-- the second, third and fourth generations are wonderful-- and I am of opinion will be responsible for lifting this interesting genus from obscurity to one of the most popular of our summer-flowering border perennials.

          Bijou and H. multiflora have given me a new race of great beauty and interest; one of my finest is Phillipine [sic] Green (Lamia x Bijou) [Perry 1946] a delightful little beauty; neat tufts of grass-like foliage from which emanate slender branching stems bearing numerous small, well-shaped flowers, barely two ins. across; pretty shade of orange-red; not more than 15 ins. over all.
 

          These forms were greatly admired at a recent exhibition in London when 123 named and unnamed hybrids (selected from about 7000 seedlings produced over a period of three years), were shown-- many of them for the first time.  [Original referred to a Plate #.]  All these forms are distinct and many others are coming into flower for the first time; selection becomes increasingly difficult. I can't throw away any that show promise-- they are too precious-- but am afraid of being accused of naming too many. [Original referred to two Plates. One showed seedlings in rows and rows of pots set as closely together as possible.  The overall impression was grassy.  Another showed rows of larger seedlings in the field, foliage only, planted for future trials and cross-breeding.]

          Although Hemerocallis and the other herbaceous plants mentioned have occupied so much time and affection, the dominant interest of my life has been hardy ferns and water plants.  The latter subject has a fascination all its own and it has been a source of great satisfaction to witness the evolution of this form of gardening from the humble tub-garden of the last century to the attractive pools and warm water tanks of this "concrete age".  High explosive bombs dropped recently on my nursery at Entfield may have destroyed our collection of Scolopendriums [Asplenium scolopendrium ferns like 'Hart's Tongue'?] (which took my father and I about 70 years to gather together), but the craters have formed fine ponds and as such are now supporting water-lilies-- surely the fairest flora that ever came out of a bomb-hole! [Original refers to a Plate. The label for the plate reads as follows: "Perry Nursey; one of two bomb craters 62 feet apart; note wreckage of orchid greenhouse that stood in this spot; water lilies in crater pond, and daylilies on margin."]

          I am a Member of the following standing Committees of the R. H. S.:--Floral Committee B., Cory Cup Committee; Iris Committee; Lilium Committee; Alpine Committee.

          I am also a Founder Patron, Guild of Trade Horticulturists.

   END 

 

 



For a different autobiographical article 

that was in the British Iris Society Yearbook for 1946, go to: 

 

 'Past, Present, Future', by Amos Perry

 

http://www.worldiris.com/public_html/Notables/Notables_html/Perry_autobio.html

 
  


Amos  Perry's father was also named Amos Perry, 
and was also a nuseryman.
 This is a picture of Amos Perry, Senior. 

 

For the obituary of Amos Perry Senior

from The Garden Chronicle, June 14, 1913, go to:


http://www.worldiris.com/public_html/Notables/Notables_HTML/Perry_Senior.html


 

 

 

 

DESCRIPTIONS OF HEMEROCALLIS 'GEORGE YELD'



Drawing from Perry's Diary

[Image and descriptions provided by Stephen Kelly]


 

Perry's Diary:

GEORGE YELD ( Thunbergii x cypriana ). This variety was selected from many thousands of seedlings by Mr. Yeld during a visit in 1922 and
named to perpetuate his memory.

Gardener's Chronicle:

 Broad foliage, arching gracefully, and large symmetrical well-expanded flowers fully 51/2 ins. across. The colour deep orange,
the inner petals being motted and lined with bronzy-scarlet, growing 3ft., and blooms from July till September. 21/2ft.

Wilds Catalog 1952:

GEORGE YELD ( Perry )
3 feet. Large open flowers 6 inches across, with wide petals of canary yellow, brushed red; the color intensifying toward the throat, where it becomes deep red, then suddenly terminates with a deep clear yellow star at the throat. July.

Edenwald Gardens Catalog 1950:

GEORGE YELD --- ( Perry 1930 ) Large, recurving flowers of orange, the petals suffused with bronzy-apricot and brownish rose. Excellent.
July. 31/2  ft. $ .40

Daylily Encyclopedia:

GEORGE YELD    A famous first, or early English hybrid. The petals are canary yellow and are brushed slightly red ( fulvous ). This intensifies toward the yellow throat. The sepals are rich light orange. Considered out-standing in it's time. The American Amaryllis Society awarded it their first Class Certificate in 1937 - before the daylily had become sufficiently well known to earn a society of it's
own. H. thunbergi x H. fulva 'Cypriani.' 36 M 6 Dor SI Fr         Amos Perry 1926.



MARCUS ( 1932 )  Description from Perry's Diary 1946.

Large Amaryllis - like flowers, overlapping divisions, pointed, twisted; orange - yellow overlaid soft reddish - bronze. July - Aug. 3 ft.

 




AHS Database information:

Marcus (PERRY, 1932) height 33", season M, Dormant, Diploid,  YOL1.





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